(WWJ) A new study of homeless youth in Detroit by Loyola University says 1 in 5 are victims of human trafficking, with a whopping 21 percent of the 60 local respondents in the study saying they had been trafficked for sex, labor, or both.
Cynthia Adams, associate executive director at Covenant House, said she had no idea the numbers would be so high.
She added now that they are aware of such high numbers they can do something to address it.
“One of the things it’s caused us to do is really take a good look at how young people get involved in human trafficking issues and so what we want to to do is take those reasons they get involved and try to make it as positive as possible,” Adams said.
She added that providing these youth with resources to keep them off the street is imperative so they don’t become victims.
About 56 percent of sex trafficking reported in the study in Detroit was by LGBT youth. For reference, sex trafficking was defined in the study as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.
“Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bonding or slavery.”
Overall, the study included 13 cities. Researchers interviewed homeless youth at Covenant House shelters in Anchorage, Atlanta, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C. Interviews were also conducted with young people at Tumbleweed, one•n•ten, and Native American Connections – all located in Phoenix.
“The totals completely floored us,” Adams said.
She added that more resources are needed to keep young people off the streets so they don’t become victims.